Need help with offline mapping

CreeperSleeper

Looking for bigger rocks.
To be honest, I don't even know exactly what I should be asking so I'm going to give you a lot of info first.

This is my background: I have never used a stand-alone GPS system other than my Garmin golf watch. The only experience I have with digital mapping is with the factory navigation system in the 4Runner and Google Maps. Everything I do is with a paper map usually a Delorme Atlas or a USFS unit map. I will use the navi or Google Maps (along with physical landscape features) to help find my position on the map, which is usually faster than calculating lat / long.

And now the "problem": I was given a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 for work, but it doesn't do what I need it to for work. I was thinking about using it for a digital map. The tablet is running Android 8.1.0, has 32GB of internal storage, and can use up to a 400GB MicroSD card. Bottom line is I don't know anything about this stuff and could use some recommendations on where to go from here.

I really need something that is simple to use (or I will just go back to my paper maps). I don't want to spend hours trying to find and download maps that I need. From my limited research, it seems like Benchmark digital atlases in Avenza Maps would do everything I would want, but I don't want to spend $25 per map. I already did that when I bought my atlases! I've heard that Gaia is good, but it seems like the features and usage would be over my head.

Any advice you can give me would be appreciated. Please feel free to ask more questions. I'm sure I am ignorant about almost all of this, so please speak to me like the dumb redneck I am. LOL!
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
I read your first two paragraphs and Avenza jumped to mind, so it probably means something when I saw you'd already considered it in your third paragraph.

Something I don't think you'll be able to really avoid with digital maps is some amount of searching for the right maps. It's possible to get a decent set of base maps when you buy a set but they aren't the end-all, be-all. It's like paper maps. You get a gazetteer but you still pick up individual Trails Illustrated and MVUMs.

I find Avenza super handy in this respect, getting USFS and BLM maps in PDF to augment topo or street maps.

FWIW I use a stand-alone Garmin GPS receiver for most of my navigation. It's a GPSMap 78. I haven't found an app on my phone that I think is as easy to use moving and having it always recording a track and rolling them daily means I never forget to do it. The routing works better than anything else IMO.

Off all the apps I tend to use Backcountry Navigator (which I did end up paying for) most for following pre-built tracks and finding myself on a quad. Mostly, though, my device is doing Avenza and APRSdroid (for ham stuff). Gaia is popular with friends and if I was willing to buy it that might be what I'd do now.

I've also tried Oruxmaps, Cruiser and Locus, all are just OK. If I had to pick one it would probably be Oruxmaps. I just point them all to the same openandromaps and ultimately they all do about the same thing as a result and the offline routing solutions aren't great.

You might also consider Maps.me, which is a simple app that uses it's own maps and internal routing that works well offline. It's not a topo map but has all the OpenStreetMap data in it so works well enough for getting you somewhere.
 
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deserteagle56

Adventurer
Get a Garmin Montana and put it in an AMPS powered mount so it's always running off 12 volts. Then download whatever maps you want for free from gpsfiledepot.com, put them on a microSD card and stick it in the Montana. You'll not have to worry about maps again.
I tried using a smart phone for navigation and found it not worth the hassle. The Montana is always with me and always has the maps of the states I visit already loaded. If you buy a Montana model with the "T" designation it will come with topo maps of the whole United States already loaded...but that mapset is not the most up-to-date.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Quick question with Avenza, can you layer maps?
If you mean such as adjusting the visibility of a PDF, not that I can tell. It only lets me select one map to use and puts your location on top of that image.
download whatever maps you want for free from gpsfiledepot.com
FWIW, these are the free Garmin maps I generally use. They are periodically updated from the OSM database and overlaid on contour and USGS data.

http://www.gmaptool.eu/en/content/usa-osm-topo-routable
 

CreeperSleeper

Looking for bigger rocks.
Get a Garmin Montana and put it in an AMPS powered mount so it's always running off 12 volts. Then download whatever maps you want for free from gpsfiledepot.com, put them on a microSD card and stick it in the Montana. You'll not have to worry about maps again.
I tried using a smart phone for navigation and found it not worth the hassle. The Montana is always with me and always has the maps of the states I visit already loaded. If you buy a Montana model with the "T" designation it will come with topo maps of the whole United States already loaded...but that mapset is not the most up-to-date.
Please excuse my ignorance, but wouldn't needing to download maps to a unit I don't own have the same function as downloading maps to a device I already have? Also, I was under the impression that Garmin maps weren't ideal.
 

CreeperSleeper

Looking for bigger rocks.
If you mean such as adjusting the visibility of a PDF, not that I can tell. It only lets me select one map to use and puts your location on top of that image.
Gotcha. I think there is a way to, for lack of better terms, put a map on top of another map in other programs. For example, put a historic map over your main map to see old mines. Maybe I am way off base. LOL!
 

digitalnomad

New member
Use a combination of paper maps look up your position on the map and coordinates from your phone.

I have used OSMAnd for Android with an external battery powered bluetooth GPS receiver. The app is free and OpenStreetMap data. It does want you to buy stuff, but I haven't needed to. Download the states you want prior to going out of range and you are good. It does have routing too. I use maps in Nevada, California and Oregon.

But my main goto maps is a custom Windows app that requires internet.
 

CreeperSleeper

Looking for bigger rocks.
Use a combination of paper maps look up your position on the map and coordinates from your phone.

I have used OSMAnd for Android with an external battery powered bluetooth GPS receiver. The app is free and OpenStreetMap data. It does want you to buy stuff, but I haven't needed to. Download the states you want prior to going out of range and you are good. It does have routing too. I use maps in Nevada, California and Oregon.

But my main goto maps is a custom Windows app that requires internet.
Thanks digitalnomad. I looked at the OSMAnd website and it looks to be more for guidance on the beaten path. Does it work well in remote areas (i.e. logging or forest service roads)? Google Maps and the factory Navi work well for major roads. I am looking for something to take me off the beaten path.
 

deserteagle56

Adventurer
Please excuse my ignorance, but wouldn't needing to download maps to a unit I don't own have the same function as downloading maps to a device I already have? Also, I was under the impression that Garmin maps weren't ideal.
You cannot use Garmin-spec maps on a phone or tablet as far as I know. And Garmin units cannot use just any topo map - only Garmin spec ones. You cannot just download a USGS 7.5 topo map to a Garmin GPS and expect it to work. I also use a Delorme GPS - and their maps, while excellent, can be used ONLY on a Delorme GPS unit. gpsfiledepot maps are Garmin spec and will work fine on any Garmin GPS.
No, maps put out by Garmin are not ideal - if you are talking topo maps. The Garmin City Navigator maps for highway use are excellent. But there are Garmin-spec maps - maps designed to run on Garmin GPS units - made by other outfits besides Garmin - that are a lot better. The gpsfiledepot maps are good and will work on any Garmin. There are others - hunting maps, MVUM maps, etc. that will work on Garmin units. I use Garmin's maps and others - all of them provide different information that can be useful.
 

CreeperSleeper

Looking for bigger rocks.
You cannot use Garmin-spec maps on a phone or tablet as far as I know. And Garmin units cannot use just any topo map - only Garmin spec ones. You cannot just download a USGS 7.5 topo map to a Garmin GPS and expect it to work. I also use a Delorme GPS - and their maps, while excellent, can be used ONLY on a Delorme GPS unit. gpsfiledepot maps are Garmin spec and will work fine on any Garmin GPS.
No, maps put out by Garmin are not ideal - if you are talking topo maps. The Garmin City Navigator maps for highway use are excellent. But there are Garmin-spec maps - maps designed to run on Garmin GPS units - made by other outfits besides Garmin - that are a lot better. The gpsfiledepot maps are good and will work on any Garmin. There are others - hunting maps, MVUM maps, etc. that will work on Garmin units. I use Garmin's maps and others - all of them provide different information that can be useful.
That makes sense. I guess what I was trying to ask is why would it be better to use the Garmin Montana over the tablet I already have if I still need to download maps?
 

deserteagle56

Adventurer
That makes sense. I guess what I was trying to ask is why would it be better to use the Garmin Montana over the tablet I already have if I still need to download maps?
For your tablet or smart phone you'll need to download maps for whatever area you will be exploring. Those maps are generally huge in size - one of the reasons I gave up using a smart phone was that it took too long, with my internet connection to download any maps. So I'm talking the maps you would download to your tablet would be only so many miles by so many miles - not really a big area. Every time you want to explore another area you'll have to download more maps, to cover that new area. As far as I know, no one makes decent topo maps for a tablet that cover an entire state or region.

If you download the Garmin 100k mapset, that will give you the whole United States and part of Canada (I think) in that one mapset. No need to download any more maps. Not the most detailed but still pretty good; most people find that mapset is all they need. It shows most of the backcountry two-track roads in addition to highways/back roads, plus terrain features. It comes preloaded on any Garmin GPS unit that has a "T" in the model number, i.e. Montana 680T. I see that Garmin now offers an automotive-type GPS unit with a 7" screen, the DriveTrack 71, that has both the Garmin City Navigator maps and the Garmin 100k maps preloaded.

If you download the Garmin 24k mapsets (more detailed than the 100k) they cover regions...Garmin 24k West covers the states of Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California for instance. So if you download the mapset that covers the states you explore primarily, that's all you'll need.

The gpsfiledepot maps are by state. They are Garmin-compatible but not put out by Garmin. So download the states you are interested in and you never need to download again.

So the advantage is that for a Garmin GPS unit you download once. For a phone or tablet, you'll download every time you want to explore a new area. For someone living in an area with good high-speed internet that's not a problem. For me, its a big problem!
 
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DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
You cannot use Garmin-spec maps on a phone or tablet as far as I know.
Oruxmaps can display unlocked Garmin compiled IMG maps.

https://oruxmaps.com/cs/en/

I've since found that Mapsforge maps work better in the app and in my Android tool set (I can share Mapsforge maps between Oruxaps, APRSdroid, BCN, etc.). But in any case it's the only still current app that could do Garmin maps. I've been able to use the same IMG on both my Garmin devices (eTrex 20x and the GPSMap 78) and Oruxmaps v.7.4.14.
So the advantage is that for a Garmin GPS unit you download once. For a phone or tablet, you'll download every time you want to explore a new area. For someone living in an area with good high-speed internet that's not a problem. For me, its a big problem!
This isn't necessarily true. Depends on the maps and application. As I said above, if you use Oruxmaps you can use some Garmin maps (but not purchased ones from Garmin unfortunately) and never need to be online. Most Android apps can use Mapsforge vector maps and will be a one-and-done download, too. It's when you point to an online tile server or use raster maps where you usually need to have Internet access or pre-cache all your maps.
 
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CreeperSleeper

Looking for bigger rocks.
For your tablet or smart phone you'll need to download maps for whatever area you will be exploring. Those maps are generally huge in size - one of the reasons I gave up using a smart phone was that it took too long, with my internet connection to download any maps. So I'm talking the maps you would download to your tablet would be only so many miles by so many miles - not really a big area. Every time you want to explore another area you'll have to download more maps, to cover that new area. As far as I know, no one makes decent topo maps for a tablet that cover an entire state or region.

If you download the Garmin 100k mapset, that will give you the whole United States and part of Canada (I think) in that one mapset. No need to download any more maps. Not the most detailed but still pretty good; most people find that mapset is all they need. It shows most of the backcountry two-track roads in addition to highways/back roads, plus terrain features. It comes preloaded on any Garmin GPS unit that has a "T" in the model number, i.e. Montana 680T. I see that Garmin now offers an automotive-type GPS unit with a 7" screen, the DriveTrack 71, that has both the Garmin City Navigator maps and the Garmin 100k maps preloaded.

If you download the Garmin 24k mapsets (more detailed than the 100k) they cover regions...Garmin 24k West covers the states of Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California for instance. So if you download the mapset that covers the states you explore primarily, that's all you'll need.

The gpsfiledepot maps are by state. They are Garmin-compatible but not put out by Garmin. So download the states you are interested in and you never need to download again.

So the advantage is that for a Garmin GPS unit you download once. For a phone or tablet, you'll download every time you want to explore a new area. For someone living in an area with good high-speed internet that's not a problem. For me, its a big problem!
I think I gotcha. So the benefit of the Garmin is the mapset fits on the unit, only requiring to download it once, correct? I was under the impression I could do the same thing with other maps, but I guess I never calculated out exactly how much storage I would need. In my mind I was thinking that I could download mapsets by region, like the Garmin 24k maps, to run off of the tablet using XYZ app and have better maps that would always be on there.
 
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